Title Pending: Study A Master

January 6, 2015Songwriting, Title Pending

My wife studied studio art in college. And as part of her coursework, she spent a good chunk of time not only looking at but re-painting or re-sculpting pieces by master artists. On the wall near my desk is Amy’s study of Wayne Thiebaud’s “Black Shoes.” I find Thiebaud’s original piece particularly remarkable because the … Read More

Upon The Dawning of a New Year and Turning 41

January 1, 2015Title Pending, Uncategorized

I’m not someone who worries about my age. I worry more about the Raiders and A’s than I do how old I am. That said, I have spent the past three months on Sabbatical, looking backward at the first forty years of my life and wondering/dreaming about what’s next. Author Richard Rohr, in his book Falling Upward, … Read More

Title Pending: Inspiration Fizzles

December 9, 2014Title Pending

Inspiration generally gets me to the foot of the mountain. But once I’m there, inspiration often fizzles because the mountain doesn’t look like the mountain anymore. It looks like a steep hill and lots of short steps carrying a cheese-ob- sessed toddler on my back. It looks like a spreadsheet or a blank page instead … Read More

Title Pending: Are You A Sellout?

December 5, 2014Title Pending

It is easy to romanticize the image of the “starving artist.” But there is no intrinsic value in failure. Just as there is no intrinsic anathema in success. If you choose to sell what you make, then for the sake of all things worth swearing by, don’t believe for a minute that doing so makes … Read More

Title Pending: You Want To Be Critiqued

November 6, 2014Creativity, Songwriting, Title Pending

Mid-way through that songwriter retreat, one of the other contributing artists shared a story that, in my estimation, clearly detailed the danger of expecting niceness rather than seeking critique. Upon arrival, one of the participants whose song he had critiqued approached him, infuriated. Student: “I don’t understand the feedback you gave me.” Teacher: “Let’s take … Read More

Title Pending: A Few Thoughts On Cliche

October 30, 2014Creativity, Songwriting, Title Pending

Theologian Walter Brueggemann’s “Hopeful Imagination” is a poetically-charged call to abandon dead words (cliché). In this essay he writes: “Predictable language is a measure of a deadened relationship in which address is reduced to slogan.” The use of cliché can be reflective of a tragic disconnect be- tween an artist and her subject. What may … Read More

Title Pending: Propaganda

October 22, 2014Creativity, Songleading, Title Pending

Nobody likes propaganda and nobody wants to make it. But what if you’ve got something you really want to say? I don’t think the trick is keep your agendas and ideologies in the back-seat like troublesome children. Instead, learn to make art in which your ideologies and agendas have a place of their own without taking over and dominating your work. … Read More

Title Pending: Maturity Is Not About Arrival

October 16, 2014Creativity, Songwriting, Title Pending

In a scene I find both challenging and encouraging, Irving Stone depicts Vincent Van Gogh conversing passionately with his brother, Theo concerning his personal creative development. Pacing the floor wildly, breaking glasses and trashing his own hard-earned work as he rants: Vincent: “Must I give up? Am I through? It looks that way, doesn’t it? Theo: … Read More